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Revolution Through The Eyes Of A Child

Children are not immune from revolutions and the impact on people’s lives
Fars Media Corporation, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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Children are not immune from revolutions and the impact on people’s lives

Hello, Radio Readers; this is Kim Perez, and I am coming to you from the history department at Fort Hays State University. The books I will be discussing, the two-book series Persepolis and Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi, are the first in our Spring 2022 reader’s theme: Graphic Novels:  Worth a Thousand Words.  

Hello, Radio Readers; this is Kim Perez, and I am coming to you from the history department at Fort Hays State University. The books I will be discussing, the two-book series Persepolis and Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi, are the first in our Spring 2022 reader’s theme: Graphic Novels:  Worth a Thousand Words.  

The first novel in the series, Persepolis:  The Story of a Childhood, was published in 2003 and centered on her life until the age of fourteen when she was sent away to Austria to attend a French school because her parents feared for her safety in her home country of Iran. The sequel, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, was published in 2004 and picks up where the first one left off; it covers her time in Austria, her return to Iran, her marriage to an Iranian man, her divorce, and finally her departure from Iran to start a new life in France, where she remained. Time Magazine recently listed Persepolis as one of “The 100 Best YA Books of All Time.” You can find Satrapi’s novels on the shelves in the Young Adult section of libraries and bookstores, but don’t let that deter you from picking them up. I am a fan of YA novels because I read a lot of weighty stuff and find that YA balances out my reading. Plus, YA has developed as a genre, and there are a lot of great authors producing great work. Satrapi’s books are not juvenile in tone, even though they are marketed for young adults and written from a young girl's perspective.

These novels are part of a tradition of deeply serious political and cultural events being recounted from a child’s perspective. I became aware of this trend when I read Ji-Li Jiang’s Red Scarf Girl in 1997 about the Cultural Revolution in China and promptly invited her to western Kansas to speak. And one of the most recent books published from the perspective of a young girl was Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights. These stories deal with incredibly sensitive issues, but they seem more palatable when presented from a child’s perspective (and, in these particular cases, young girls).

Why is that, I wonder? All these books that I mentioned were written when the authors were adults. Why didn’t they write their recollections from their adult perspective? Why did they market these books to a younger audience? These are interesting questions. Perhaps it is because these sensitive political events are more objective when told from the perspective of the innocence of youth? Young anger, rebellion, and fear are less scary than those same emotions coming from an adult? Perhaps the stories about how these events affected young, innocent children have more emotional impact? Or, telling these stories in relatable ways to youth will increase the likelihood that events such as those recounted in these books will not happen again? I don’t have the answers…. but I continue to contemplate the questions.

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Spring Read 2022: Graphic Novels—Worth a Thousand Words 2022 Spring ReadHPPR Radio Readers Book Club
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